Furnace is an engine building game from the same designer that created one of my favorites, Smartphone Inc. The gorgeous industrial box art was what originally drew me into this game published by Arcane Wonders. What we found inside the box is a solid engine-building game that the whole family has enjoyed.
Welcome to the Auction
Each of the 4 rounds of Furnace begins with players putting their bidding tokens on the line-up of companies that are for sale. Company cards are multi-faceted. The winning bidder will gain the company and add them to their tableau. Any bidders that under bid on a company will gain the compensation effect at the top of the card. This is multiplied by the number that the player bid.
During the bidding phase, there are two basic rules. First, a player can only have one bidding token on a company card. Second, a company card can only have 1 disc of each bid value (#1-4). This forces players to focus on what companies and resources they really want going into the production phase of the round. Earning new companies in Furnace isn’t always necessary. Getting the boost of resources can be extremely helpful.
Resources are paid out and winning bidders add their new company cards in front of them.
Each company card gives the player a resource(s) or allows them to convert resources in a number of ways. Ultimately, Furnace is about creating an engine that efficiently makes money from the resources you’re collecting.
During the production phase players work through their company cards, producing goods, converting goods and hopefully earning money. We’ve found it so helpful to line up company cards and work through each one. As you add more companies, organizing when these companies trigger becomes a puzzle.
Each company has an upgrade side that gives an additional conversion. Players can upgrade a company using an upgrade token and resource(s) shown on their start-up card. These upgraded companies can be a big asset.
The Industrial Revolution
I rarely purchase games based on the artwork, but this is one of those that drew me in from first sight. Furnace is never complex but is always serving players with tough decisions. Careful planning will lead to building an excellent engine. Lack of planning, as I’ve found out, leaving you with very little money and tons of worthless resources after 4 rounds.
Our family feel in love with Fantastic Factories over a year ago. That is a great family-weight engine-builder that our kids really enjoyed. Furnace seems like the next evolution for our family. We’ve enjoyed the deeper strategies in this game and the bidding mechanic is so well done.
In many games, auctions can leave some players feeling empty handed. Winning a new company card is obviously the best outcome, but earning resources times the number on your bidding token is still pretty sweet. Because of these compensation payouts, players will always come away with something.
I think this is what makes Furnace a winner for us. The 4 rounds move quickly and the bidding mechanic will never dictate the game. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, players can use the unique player cards that are included in the game. These give abilities that players are able to use each round.
An Upgraded Experience
I’m not that gamer who buys the upgrades and all the extras for a game. I did however pick up the Furnace playmat when buying my game at Origins. This playmat (almost) feels necessary for Furnace. It organizes everything so well and adds table presence to this game. In all honesty, this playmat feels like it should have been included in the box with a slightly higher price point. That’s saying something coming from the guy who never wants to overpay for anything.
Players may notice that you’ll see every one of the company cards after about 2 games of Furnace. The game could definitely benefit from another dozen company cards in the box. This could definitely add some replay-ability to an already excellent game.
Furnace is an engine-builder that fits nicely into our collection. It’s deep enough to play during a game night with friends but light enough that our teenage kids are willing to jump in and play.
- Game has an excellent pace during the 4 rounds
- Beautiful industrial artwork and style
- Bidding mechanic makes this game great
- Light to Medium weight engine building
- The game could use another dozen company cards
- Playmat (costs extra) really pulls everything together